Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Raise the cap on H-1B visas
Today marks the annual deadline for employers to submit their H-1B visa applications for 2009. Last year, more than 150,000 applications were submitted in just two days, more than twice the annual limit of 65,000, and many are predicting a similar deluge this year. Unfortunately, due to the artificially low cap on these visas, tens of thousands of highly skilled workers hoping to contribute to the American economy are once again likely to be sent home to work outside of the U.S.
As a technology company, Google's success depends on its ability to attract, hire, and retain the best and brightest wherever they come from. But because of limits on H-1Bs, we are regularly unable to pursue highly qualified foreign-born candidates. Last year, 248 of our visa applications were accepted, but 70 were rejected -- more than 1 in 5 of our total. That's 70 potential U.S. employees who would be creating innovative new Google products, paying taxes, contributing to the U.S. economy, and spurring the creation of additional support jobs at Google.
This year, Google will submit H-1B applications for about 300 potential employees, mostly recent college or graduate school graduates. We know that those employees could have a major impact on Google's future ability to innovate on behalf of our users. From developing products like Google News, Google Maps, and orkut, to managing our business and global marketing operations, highly skilled foreign workers have played -- and continue to play -- a vital role at Google. That's why Laszlo Bock, our Vice President for People Operations, testified on this issue before Congress last spring, and why, as a member of Compete America, we've urged Congress to increase the annual cap.
Several Members of Congress understand that the H-1B cap must be raised if the United States hopes to maintain its status as the world's high-tech leader. Recently Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) introduced legislation that would effectively double the cap in the near-term, and in early March Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) proposed tripling it. And we know that other members of Congress are highly supportive of addressing the H-1B problem as well.
We welcome Congress' work on this issue, and we continue to urge Congress to raise the cap to reflect the growth rate of our technology-driven economy. If Google and other American companies are unable to hire and employ in the U.S. the world's top scientists, mathematicians, and engineers -- many of whom are already here studying at an American university -- foreign competitors will and we will lose opportunities to create more jobs and innovate here at home. As the San Jose Mercury News put it, "we shouldn't close the doors to the Andy Groves and [Sergey] Brins of the future."